I was watching the Stonewall Uprising documentary and the name Marsha P. Johnson was not mentioned once considering she was a leader of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. So I felt like posting these Polaroids of her taken by Andy Warhol to show remembrance of her as the significant trailblazer that she was in making the Stonewall Riots happen. It’ll be 46 years since the riots on June the 28th and 45 years since the first gay pride march took place in New York City as a result of the Stonewall Riots. Thank you Marsha. RIP.
Stormé DeLarverie, LGBTQ activist & legendary Stonewall drag king, dies at 93 May 28, 2014
Gay rights activist Stormé DeLarverie, who fought police during the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, has died. The 93-year-old passed away in her sleep on Saturday morning in the Brooklyn nursing home where she lived.
The Bronx LGBTQ Center is deeply saddened by the loss of a pioneer of the modern-day LGBTQ civil rights movement, Stormé Delarverie. Often referred to as the “Rosa Parks” as the gay rights movement, Stormé was a fierce woman who stood up for our community on countless occasions. She passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of Saturday, May 24, 2014.
DeLarverie was born in New Orleans in 1920. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, she performed as the only drag king in the Jewel Box Revue, America’s first racially integrated female impersonation show. She was the subject of the short film Stormé: The Lady of the Jewel Box, released in 1987.
One month before her death, on April 24, 2014, DeLarverie was honored alongside Edie Windsor by the Brooklyn Community Pride Center for her bravery, love, and fearlessness within the LGBT community.
!!!! Marsha P. Johnson & Sylvia Rivera, veterans of the Stonewall Rebellion and founders of S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), at the Christopher Street Liberation Day, Gay Pride Parade, NYC. June 24, 1973. #RESPECT #KNOWYOURHISTORY #HEROES
“Miss Major is a black, formerly incarcerated, transgender elder. She has been an activist and advocate in her community for over forty years. She was at the Stonewall uprising in 1969, became politicized at Attica, was an original member of the first all-transgender gospel choir, and is a father, mother, grandmother, and grandfather to her own children, and to many in the transgender community.
Currently, Miss Major is the Executive Director of TGI Justice where she instills hope and a belief in a better future to the girls that are currently incarcerated and those coming home.” - from the Transgender/Intersex Justice Project website
Every queer person of my generation owes Miss Major a debt of gratitude. She needs us right now.
“This past week Miss Major’s apartment caught fire and almost all of her personal belongings were severely damaged. Thankfully, she and her pooch Moose were unharmed. She is currently looking for a new place to live, and once she is able to re-establish permanent housing, she’s going to need support to refurnish her home in addition to simply covering her monthly bills, health costs, etc.
Please help by inviting your friends and networks to join this circle, increasing your monthly donation, or making an additional one-time donation. Because we take care of our own.”
Words can barely contain my disappointment, frustration, and anger at this book.
Stonewall by Ann Bausum purports to tell the history of the Stonewall riots, and the subsequent rise in LGBTQ community and activism. The book stands apart by being one of only a few nonfiction books on LGBT history to be written specifically for teens. But it is a sloppy, poorly researched accounts – giving too much of the credit for the riots and the political gains that followed to gay men (and a little to lesbians). Bisexual and transgender people are erased from her telling of history, leaving glaring holes that demonstrates she doesn’t fully understand her subjects.
If you want a quick and easy example, just look at this sentence from page 53 of the ARC: “Activists took part in the attack, as did some cross-dressing transvestites, and other gays. But the so-called queens of the era - effeminate men, many still teenaged, who affected effeminate mannerism but didn’t necessarily cross-dress – drove the show”.
That might be the saddest, most ahistorical mess of a sentence I have ever seen in a book about LGBTQ history. It
is an acknowledgement that other people existed, and at the same time an
utter dismissal of their importance. It’s a mess of poor wording choices and frankly, its just plain wrong.
Digging deeper into this book, it really does not get better. One of the first problems is the erasure of legendary bisexual transgender activist Sylvia Rivera from both the events at Stonewall and what followed. If you read the acknowledgements at the end, Bausum did a fair amount of research, so I am absolutely boggled as to how she could have done so without ever coming across the name Sylvia Rivera. Sylvia was largely considered to have thrown the first bottle at Stonewall. Whether she did or not is debatable, but its hard
to argue that she wasn’t a forceful part of the riots or of the activism that came from it. Her story of being pushed out of the movement she helped to birth that night at the Stonewall Inn is a sad but vital part of our history. Her erasure is reprehensible.
But it also ties into a larger problem in this book. Often Bausum conflates cross-dressers, transvestites, and transgender people to the point where you’re not sure who is what, or who was doing what. Trans people made up a significant part of the bars clientele (and a significant part of the arrests that first night) but transgender issues in the world of the Stonewall Inn in 1969 are given no explanation. Gay culture is given a lot of page time in this book yet the basics of trans culture is completely ignored. I understand that Bausum and her editors may not want to use the term transgender because it didn’t exist in 1969, however there are other ways to explain who these people were and how they identified.
And the lack of explanation is confusing. At one point Bausum quotes Yvonne Ritter, a woman who was there that night in a dress borrowed from her mother, saying “on that night Ritter was a young man celebrating his eighteenth birthday”. That could have been the perfect segue to introduce readers to transgender people and culutre of that time period. Instead the trans-ignorant langauge just hangs there in a way that makes the informed reader groan. Presumably Yvonne is a trans woman? We think? Later she climbs out a window, but without the cultural context of transgender women in this time period, her story lacks depth. We don’t understand why she might be desperate to crawl out a window or even who she was.
This book also does a pretty crummy job of handling lesbian issues as well. It talks about gay activism as just that, GAY activism. While there were few lesbians at the Stonewall Inn that night, they were very involved in the subsequent LGBT activism that followed. Yet lesbian
issues, achievements, and goals are limited to a
caption under a picture and a claim that AIDS made the issues
between lesbians and gay men in the movement just disappear. Just as
there is no context for bisexual people or transgender lives, there is
no context for lesbian activism or the intersecting issues of sexism
that lesbians faced. None.
The final blow of erasure and inaccuracy concerns Brenda Howard. In Bausum’s telling of the story, the bisexual woman who founded that first Christopher Street Liberation March, aka The Mother Of Pride just doesn’t exist. Instead all credit for the commemorative marches and subsequent political and cultural achievements of pride is given exclusively to her gay male cohort Craig Russell. To be clear, everything I’ve seen indicates that Russell and Howard co-planned several of the earliest marches, but to give him exclusive credit is appalling. Brenda Howard continued working with what we now call pride parades (as well as other activism) long after Russell moved on. The blunt truth is that without Brenda’s dedication to the march every year until her death in 2005, there is little doubt that Pride as we know it would not exist.
In fact, the word bisexual is used exactly once in this book, on page 88, and in the context of defining the term LGBT. That is it. Though I suppose Bausum doesn’t need to use the word, since she has already stripped our bisexual leaders from Stonewall’s very history.
The worst thing about all this is that well-meaning teachers and librarians will buy this book. They will. They will buy it because there is nothing else out there on this topic for this age group (grades 7+). They will buy it because bi erasure isn’t seen as a serious problem, because none of Bausum’s editors knew enough about the bisexual and transgender history of Stonewall to spot the glaring historical inaccuracies, and because none of them cared to look.
As far as I’m concerned, this book is an utter failure. Because of the poor quality scholarship on the part of adults, teens will receive a distorted picture of Stonewall as a historical event and of the movement it created. And more specifically for bisexual teens, stripping their role models from history reinforces the subtle messages they already receive about bisexuals not being real or not being queer enough. And that makes me sad and angry. Bausum had an opportunity here to tell the story of Stonewall for EVERYONE in our community and she squandered it.
“I WILL NEVER BE A BYSTANDER TO BULLYING AND TEASING LANGUAGE. IF I HEAR IT, I WILL CALL IT OUT AND IF I CAN, I WILL STOP IT. BY ADDING MY NAME I PROMISE TO STAND UP FOR FAIRNESS, KINDNESS AND NEVER BE A BYSTANDER.”
Don't ever let anyone tell you that Pride is just for cis gay white men when so, so, so many of the people who were at Stonewall, who fought, who bled, were women, and trans, and bisexual, and people of color.
This survey is designed to help Stonewall improve our Youth Programme and the way we offer support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) young people in England. We want LGBT young people to feel happier, safer and more involved in their schools and local communities.
Your answers will remain anonymous and the survey shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes to complete.
In loving memory of Storme DeLarverie, a lesbian activist who was among those rioting at the Stonewall Inn that famous night in 1969. She died this weekend at age 93. Storme was one of the first people I ever wrote about when I started blogging; so sad to see her go. For those in the New York area, a funeral is planned for tonight at 7PM at the Greenwich Village Funeral Home. (via the Advocate)